Bebo founders Michael and Xochi Birch have funded a multimillion-pound project to regenerate a rural village in Devon, including its local Nisa convenience store.
The US tech pioneers, who founded the social networking site in 2005 and sold it for $850m in 2010, have also invested in the village of Woolsery’s pub and fish & chip shop.
The convenience store, called J Andrew Shop & Post Office, was described as “outdated and cramped” before its transformation last month. It has been revamped with a new fascia and interior, selling everyday essentials, artisan spreads and cakes, and products from local suppliers, including pastries and sausage rolls.
Nisa is also supplying a broad range of products.
Michael Birch has family ties with the village, in Torridge: his grandmother was born above the village store, which his family owned in the 1930s.
“The shop itself is absolutely beautiful and we are really proud of it,” said J Andrew operations manager Kaylea Reeves.
“We have taken it back to dark wooden shelves, which is how it would have been back when Michael’s family owned it previously. It has amazing lighting as well, which really highlights the interesting products we carry.
“We knew that we needed a wholesaler for our core range of products in the shop but wanted to be 100% independent and with our own identity,” added Reeves.
She added that the business’s MD Emily Harmon continued to discuss plans and design opportunities with the Birches.